f_logoAs some of you may know, I have a small craft business named Benalily Designs.  The primary purpose of Benalily Designs is to provide an outlet for my passion for jewelry making.  It also provides, however, a useful testing ground for some of the techniques and strategies Marketing Staircase employs to help small businesses.  During Thanksgiving week last November, I put Facebook Advertising to the test.

The Test

As a marketing person who is committed to giving the small businesses I work with the best and most realistic advice, I decided that it was high time that I tried some of the new Facebook ad formats for myself.  My goal for my Facebook advertising was to find out how my online “word of mouth” would compare to its offline counterpart. I ran two different types of ads: an ad campaign to gain fans or “likes” and an ad to promote a post. At the time that I ran these, both of them came with the option to run sponsored stories with the ad, which I opted into. In terms of targeting, Facebook is famous for being able to target to the utmost detail. For the purpose of these ads, I chose a demographic of women, aged 18 – 60, located in the US, and (here is the ringer) I wanted to ads to show not to my existing friends and fans, but to the friends of my friends. Why?  Because almost all of the ads I ran would show cite others that already liked my jewelry page. You see, I wanted to test the power of word of mouth and social proof.  For example, when Sally’s best friend Kate saw that Sally liked the Benalily Designs page, then Sally was much more likely to check it out and like it too.  Hence, the power of Facebook.

I also ran some ads to the same demographic that encouraged visiting the Benalily Designs website, not the Facebook page, to make a purchase.  This did lead to a number of click thrus, but the amount was minimal and there were no direct sales as a result of these ads to my knowledge.

The Results

So, what were my results?  Is Benalily Designs now poised to corner the online retail handmade jewelry market?  Well, yes… and no.  First, the bad news: my advertising “blitz” resulted in no new sales from Benalily Designs’ Etsy site.  A well-thought out marketing campaign consists of more than a single step, however.  The first step is identifying potential customers, and, in that regard, Facebook was a huge success.  In only four days’ time, I saw the number of “Likes” on Benalily Designs Facebook site increase from 70 to 140, a 100% jump.

Lessons Learned

  • Photos, Photos, Photos. OK, this is obvious but it bears repeating.  I ran several different ads and mixed up the photos to see the difference. New, bright, clean close-up photos of the jewelry pieces won out on the ad response rate every time.
  • Use the “Social Proof” Factor. What exactly does “social proof” mean, you ask.  Social proof is the basic concept that when your friends see you using or advocating a product or service, they give it more credibility and are more likely to try it themselves. Facebook, in my opinion, is a treasure chest full of social proof opportunities. My ads yielded the best results when I targeted my main demographic parameters (i.e. age and gender) and ran them in front of friend of friends of my jewelry business, not my own friends.
  • Facebook Ads Pay Off in Likes.  I had read it on other blogs, and it proved true in my experience. Facebook ads aren’t necessarily going to pay off in direct sales. After about 5 days of running various ads, I did not make any sales, but I did increase the number of “Likes” to my webpage by

So that’s my take on Facebook Advertising.  Would I do it again?  Sure, but with a specific goal in mind and the interest in gathering more eyeballs to my jewelry site.  But the important point is that gathering the eyeballs is just the first part. If I don’t provide these folks interesting, valuable content on a regular basis its all for naught.

So would I do it again? Most definitely. But would I jump into it all willy-nilly, without a plan? Definitely not. Like any other advertising campaign, Facebook ads require consistency, maintenance and a lot of testing. Do an A/B split and test your various ad copy and photos.  Make sure you have the budget to support your testing, and have some fun.

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